Read John 21
Jesus rose from the dead and appeared twice to his disciples in a locked room.
He breathed the Holy Spirit upon them.
John the author of this gospel told us that we have all that we need to believe in Jesus Christ. Now we come to the last chapter.
Cast your net on the other side.
A huge catch for a small boat—153 fish.
Peter getting dressed and jumping into the water to get to the shore.
Breakfast waiting for the disciples.
The third time that John noted Jesus had appeared to the disciples.
That should bring us up to speed. Jesus and these disciples have been eating, surely a welcomed meal after a long night.
Jesus asked Peter if he loved him more than the others loved him.
Well, yeah! Of course.
Jesus told Peter, he addressed him as Simon son of Jonah or John, feed my lambs.
In the last real conversation between Jesus and Peter, Jesus had told Peter that he would deny him 3 times. Peter denied Jesus 3 times. I’m sure that Peter was glad that Jesus didn’t bring that up at this breakfast meal.
But Jesus continued with the same question. Do you love me?
Peter answers, you know that I do.
Jesus instructs Peter to care for his sheep.
A third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Peter was hurt. Lord you know all things. You know that I love you. C’mon Lord, I swam to shore when I knew it was you, didn’t I?
Jesus said, feed my sheep and then follow me. Jesus described what was ahead for Peter, at least the part about how he would die. John followed Jesus and Peter and Peter asked his Lord, what about him?
Jesus told Peter, “If I want him to live until I return, what’s that to you? Somehow this got twisted into John would live until Christ returned but that’s not what was said. Somehow, the disciples seemed to miss what was in plain sight.
Jesus said to Peter, “You must follow me.”
Most of your Bibles have subheadings and the one for this half of the chapter probably reads: Jesus Reinstates Peter.
It’s a good heading. Peter who denied Jesus three times affirmed his love for him three times and Jesus told him to take care of the flock. Peter was reinstated to lead this church into the age ahead.
It was Peter’s profession of faith—one that could have only been revealed by God—that became the foundation for the church today.
Peter had been reinstated. Jesus didn’t use the world reinstate, but it adequately conveys the essence of the conversation. As I considered the word reinstate—to restore to a former position or condition—I considered a variety of words that begin with the letter R.
Peter was reinstated.
We are restored.
We are redeemed.
We renew our minds.
Our spirits are revived.
We are released from the bondage of sin and death.
We have joy and hope in resurrection.
We are reborn—born again of the Spirit.
We with eyes to see, recognize what God has revealed to us.
I think to Ezekiel 37 when God asked the prophet, “Can these bones live?”
Can life be returned to the lifeless?
There is nothing which God cannot restore. Think ahead to the end of the story as has been revealed to us. Let’s consider the first few verses of Revelation 21.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
It’s the end of the Gospel of John. It’s the reinstatement of Peter. It’s a reminder that it is impossible to fit everything that Jesus did into a written record, but we have what we need to believe.
It’s also a reminder that we can never stray so far that we cannot come home. We can never hit such a low that God cannot lift us up. We can never sink so deep that we are out of the reach of God’s love.
God has called you not only to salvation but to discipleship. He has called you to follow him. For some of you, he has put special callings on your heart. And some of you are saddened or shamed or discouraged because you know that God called you to something and you backed away from it.
God reinstated Peter. He will reinstate you to that which he planned for you before you were in the womb.
Maybe you denied your Savior’s call. You had selective hearing when he called you. Confronting this might hurt, but ultimately it will heal.
God has purpose for us all and just for you. So many combat esteem issues, or failure issues, or just the fact that you have grown comfortable with the distance between you and God.
Jesus reinstated Peter. God can handle any setback that we have experienced. He wants us to live going forward not looking backwards.
There will be challenges ahead. We will have trouble in the world but we are called to trust the One who has overcome the world.
If Jesus calls you to cast your nets on the other side of the boat, do it.
If he says follow me, do it, regardless of what your cost-benefit analysis says. His sheep know his voice. Follow him.
Sometimes we talk ourselves out of following Jesus. Sometimes we avoid hearing his voice. Sometimes we have the best excuses ever for not going where he sends us.
There’s this saying, sometimes attached to a meme, going around these days. It says that God already factored in your stupidity when he called you. I find encouragement in that.
God knows our humanness. He knows our frailty; yet he calls us for his purpose anyway. If you have fallen away from serving God, then return home.
If you have lapsed into apathy or malaise, then let God’s Spirit revive you.
If you seem to have lost your hunger for life, then learn to rejoice in the Lord, not your circumstances.
When you feel worthless, know that the blood of Jesus has redeemed you.
When you feel lost, know that God has revealed his love and his direction for you. Rejoice in his revelations.
Remain in the teaching of our Lord and the truth shall set your free. Be released from the weight of sin and death.
Reinstating Peter was a big-time event, but it was not just to make Peter feel better. Jesus had plans for Peter. God had purpose for Peter. He told him not to worry about what he had told anyone else to do. Jesus said, “Follow me.” Essentially:
Get your eyes off of everyone else and do the work I have given to you. Follow me. Feed my sheep. Take care of my sheep. Be a shepherd.
I go now to the Lord’s directions to the church in Ephesus as found in Revelation 2.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
Here is one more R word: Repent. Turn away and leave behind everything that hinders. How can we follow the Lord if we are anchored in the ways of the world?
For however many mistakes and miscues we have made, we can repent and be restored. We can be revived. We can be renewed. Know that you are redeemed.
We sing I have decided to follow Jesus, but let us also resolve to never turn back from it. We are never too lost that we cannot be reinstated. We are all on missions from God.
We all fall short.
We all receive forgiveness in confession.
We all can get back in our race of faith.
Return to the Lord.
Remember his great love for us.
If we are off course in any way, return to him. Come home.